North Forty News
It was a cold February day when I met with fellow media guru Kristie Melendez amid the smell of cinnamon rolls at The Crooked Cup coffee shop on Oak Street in Fort Collins.
Kristie and I had originally met years ago when I worked at a TV station in Denver and we have since worked on several video projects together. So I wasn’t surprised when I learned that she had been elected Mayor of Windsor in 2016 and is currently serving out her 10th year on the Windsor Town Board.
With coffee in hand, I sat learning more about the person who has influenced very positive change in Windsor throughout her lifetime. As a 4th generation “Windsorite,” Kristie’s family had left for awhile but returned when she was in the fifth grade.
In addition to strong family ties, Kristie loves the quaint feel of the town so she has a passion for preserving what’s best about it while helping it grow. “It’s a great place to stay and raise a family. I made that decision (in the 80’s) and never looked back,” said Kristie.
Graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in Technical Journalism and a concentration in Public Relations, Kristie later built a career in local media, starting her own marketing firm, EasyChair Media now Smart Marketing, about 20 years ago.
Kristie said citizen surveys always return with highly positive marks for safety in Windsor. “Safety in the community is one of our top priorities and one of the many things that makes Windsor a great place to live.”
In addition, Windsor residents value and appreciate its history. The Windsor Severance Historical Society has produced a series of videos covering the City’s past that can be checked out at the town library and it has been a strong component in working to preserve the history of the town. Kristie provides marketing guidance pro bono to the group her mother, (a Windsor native) has been a member of for almost 50 years.
Kristie credits her community and the Parks, Recreation & Culture Department for initiatives to create and maintain 24 parks and open spaces (4 community parks, 17 neighborhood parks, and 3 open spaces) along with one of Northern Colorado’s best Recreation Centers — a park exists within a ten minute walk of nearly every community in Windsor.
Windsor’s current quality of life, Kristie says, is the result of generations of fiscally minded community leaders who had the foresight to plan prudently for future growth. “Since growth is top of mind to all in Northern Colorado, it’s even more important that locally we ensure adequate infrastructure for the long-term.” That’s what prompted Kristie to add a five-year strategic plan to the current two-year plan with initiatives focused on addressing roads & traffic, safe, reliable water and supporting a healthy downtown. “We are being very intentional to continue what town leaders who came before us did to set up Windsor as a great place to live,” Kristie said
Founded as a community of Germans from Russia who worked in the sugar beet industry, Kristie says her ancestors were hard working and very particular, neat and tidy. “My great-grandmother lived in a small white house on Main Street with a dirt yard — but she swept that dirt every day.” She recalls watching her grandmother raking the dirt in her yard until it fell into a pattern. Those early values have led to a modern-day community that is visibly clean and one where residents are vigilant in reporting weeds growing taller than they should be.
Originally, incorporated in 1890 with less than 200 people, Kodak grew the community to almost 5,000, and Windsor’s population is now projected to be 30,000 with a projected growth of 100,000 in the full-build out phase. However, Kristie and the Windsor Town Board, along with community input and guidance are now embarking on a future with a population outlook of 60,000. “This is a number that we are comfortable with and one that we intend to plan and expand our infrastructure around so that living in Windsor in the future still feels pretty much like it does today.”
Over the next 10 years, Kristie says, our town will continue to grow with more homes and more shopping and entertainment venues. Most importantly, however, Windsor will grow with a focus on keeping it a great place to live with its small-town values. Kristie says plans for open space mixed with a preservation of Windsor’s history and great overall planning will keep Windsor quaint and beautiful with top notch community services. “We are after all, the small town that thinks big,” Kristie said.
Kristie says the single most important thing people can do as Windsor continues to grow is to continue to find ways to contribute as a volunteer or as a leader in their community. “Whether it’s at your job, at your kid’s school, helping to preserve history, or volunteering in Parks and Recreation… whatever your passion, you have an opportunity to serve and be involved. For Kristie, it’s been one of the most rewarding things she has ever done in her life (besides being a mom to her two daughters). I love that what I’m working on today for my town, is going to be here to benefit those that will live, work or play here in the future.”
As for the future, Kristie terms out as Mayor in April 2020 — understandably, she is considering many options as to what comes next. But one thing is clear, Kristie Melendez will continue to live in the lovely town of Windsor, Colorado and to find ways that she can continue to serve.